New Alienware Owner Needs Advice Please

Discussion in '2015+ Alienware 13 / 15 / 17' started by Seymour Heiney, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. Seymour Heiney

    Seymour Heiney Newbie

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    Greetings. I just joined this forum in hopes of re-educating myself on a few things, and this particular discussion board seems to one of the most active. Long story short, my ThinkPad of 7 years blew its fan about two months ago, and due to it's age a viable replacement could not be found. At 7 years it was time to move on to a new machine anyway. As a Christmas gift, my lovely wife of 27 years surprised me with a very nice Alienware 15 R3. I'm not a gamer, but I do like the build quality of the AW line and had mentioned that to her at some point. Next thing I know, I find one under the tree. Anyway, now that you know the backstory, I have several questions about this laptop I hope someone here can help me answer.

    1) The model my wife bought has only an HDD, no SSD. Had I been the one to make the purchase, I would certainly have chosen a configuration with an SSD. Yes, I could have returned it for a one with a factory installed SSD, but with those baby blues smiling at me on Christmas morn, there is no way I can return this unit, especially since it meets my needs in every other way. The question here is: if I walk into Microcenter to buy an after market SSD for this model, what brand or model would you suggest I look at. I'm assuming I'd want to purchase at least 256g capacity. I really need specific product suggestions here, something where I can walk in and identify it on the shelf. Or do you recommend buying directly from Dell and let them tell me?

    2) I have always used Macrium Reflect to create monthly system images. Upon installing it on the new machine, I see it has a whopping 8 partitions. I don't think I've ever seen that many out of the box. The only partition I recognize is the primary one for the OS C: Can someone identify what the other ones are for, and why there would be so many?
    • 1 - ESP (None) FAT32 (LBA) Primary - size: 66 mb out of 500.0 mb
    • 2 - (None) Unformatted Primary - size: 128.0 mb out of 128.0 mb
    • 3 - OS C: NTFS Primary - size: 162.27 gb out of 915.46 gb
    • 4 - (None) NTFS Primary - size: 485.0 mb out of 835.0 mb
    • 5 - WINRETOOLS (None) - size: 362.6 mb out of 450.0 mb
    • 6 - Image (None) NTFS Primary - size: 12.98 gb out of 13.13 gb
    • 7 - DELLSUPPORT (None) NTFS Primary - size: 615.4 mb out of 1.04 gb
    • 8 - just gray box - size: 11.7mb

    3) I am getting periodic Windows notifications from Alienware AlienFX that "there was an error while Alien FX Controller was communicating with the computer." In addition, when I go into Alienware Command Center I get this message "The device you have selected is included in the current theme but AlienFX cannot detect this device on your system. Do you want to remove this device from the current theme?" I've been selecting "NO" because I don't know what will happen if I choose "YES". Any thoughts on what I should do about this?

    4) BIOS updates scare the hell out of me. I suppose it's because I had bad experiences with Lenovo's tool to update the BIOS on my ThinkPad. After a few years I just quit updating it. However, I'd like to try and stay on top of things with this new machine. So a couple questions on this:
    • When I go out to Dell's Drivers and Downloads page and enter my service tag, there is a list of items that appears with Name, Category, and Last Update. I'm not sure what this represents. Am I supposed to download and install ALL of these? Are they just suggestions? While I haven't made any updates to the brand new system yet, and haven't installed the Dell System Detect software, how does Dell know I haven't installed these yet?
    • Will the Alienware Update module found in the taskbar be enough to rely on for system updates, or should I install the Dell System Detect from Dell's website? The Alienware Update shows I'm "up-to-date", but as I stated before, when I go out to Dells drivers and downloads page and enter my service tag, it comes back with a bunch of updates, including a new BIOS update.
    • Updating the BIOS: is it really as simple as downloading the BIOS update from the Drivers and Downloads page to my desktop and clicking it to install? If not, what other suggestions do you have for updating the BIOS? How do I know that this is really the BIOS update I need? I'm assuming it is because I haven't updated anything yet, the machine was received by my wife in November, and the Last Update date for the BIOS on Dell's site is 12/23/17.

    Sorry for so many questions, but I really want to take care of this machine, keep it updated, but do it the right way from the start.

    Thanks for reading.

    Seymour
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
  2. AeonAaron

    AeonAaron Newbie

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    I just sold my r2 15 and it had an extra m.2 slot. I have no doubt that you have one or 2 expansion slots as well. Take off the back plate and have a look. All good quality mother boards have one these days. Also, the bios update should be as simple as running an executable from either the OS or dropping it onto a flash drive and opening it from the bios. I literally just did one yesterday. I understand what you mean when you say they scare you, though.

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
     
  3. Seymour Heiney

    Seymour Heiney Newbie

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    AeonAaaron, thanks for the response. Yes, I do have SSD expansion slots, was just wondering what make and model would be best to put in. Eventually I'll have to update the BIOS, but need to understand the tools available to me first, like what is the difference between the Alienware Update in the notification icons and Dell System Detect/Update.

    Thanks again.
     
  4. Pete Light

    Pete Light Notebook Deity

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    Hi, you want to get a Samsung m.2 SSD. The latest Toshiba's are good too but you can't buy these direct. The Samsung's are the best anyway. 960 EVO or PRO is what you want. If you will be playing some games, I'd recommend a 512GB SSD as a minimum. Forget 256.
    Also I have done several repastes on 15 R3s now and I have a macrium reflect image of a clean, fresh and optimised Windows 10 install. if you're interested PM me.

    Finally. I never trust the Dell (or any other manufacturer) software to tell you what drivers you need. Just install the minimum and follow Phoenix's guide on page 3 i believe in what to install and what order

    Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
  5. nedooo

    nedooo Notebook Consultant

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    Well, get one of those SSD monsters that cost more then your laptop, you cant go wrong with that...if you don't know what is good, you sure know what is expensive ;)
     
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  6. Pete Light

    Pete Light Notebook Deity

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    True, they aren't cheap but you really do get what you pay for, temps are a big problem with m.2 SSDs and the Samsung's or latest Toshiba's are the only drives I found which can cope without throttling performance. A 512GB 960 EVO can be picked up for just over £200GBP brand new, hardly the cost of the laptop ;P

    Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk
     
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  7. nedooo

    nedooo Notebook Consultant

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    I was just being sarcastic, but indeed there are few crazy priced ssd modules ;-P

    Like this sad case:

    https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-2-5-...pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1515457198&sr=1-5&keywords=m.2
     
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  8. IXVIXXII

    IXVIXXII Notebook Geek

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    True : I have one 256 Go 960 EVO (system) & one 1To Pro (games). They heat less and behave quite well under load. They are worth every € IMO.
     
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